a.. U.S. NEWS
b.. JULY 21, 2009
Police Arrest Black Scholar in Dispute
By JOHN HECHINGER and SIMMI AUJLA
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the country's leading
scholars of African-American studies, was charged with disorderly conduct
last week for allegedly "loud and tumultuous behavior" after police
responded to a report of a break-in at his home near Harvard University's
Mr. Gates, who is seeking to have the charges dropped, told police he was a
victim of racism.
At 12:44 p.m. Thursday, a witness said she saw two black men with backpacks
on the porch of Mr. Gates's home, with "one of the men wedging his shoulder
into the door as if he was trying to force entry," according to a Cambridge
police report made public Monday.
Charles Ogletree, a Harvard Law School professor representing Mr. Gates,
said Mr. Gates had returned from the airport after filming a documentary in
China, and the other man was a limousine driver. He said Mr. Gates had
trouble opening his front door, so he entered through the back and tried to
open the front entrance while the driver pushed from outside. He said Mr.
Gates called Harvard, from which he leases the home, to complain about the
door and at first thought police were responding to his call.
According to the report, Sgt. James Crowley said he saw a man, later
identified as the 58-year-old professor, in the home's foyer. The officer
said he wanted to speak with Mr. Gates about the suspected break-in and the
professor replied, "Why, because I'm a black man in America?" the report
Sgt. Crowley said Mr. Gates yelled at him, called him a racist and said:
"You don't know who you are messing with." After initially refusing, Mr.
Gates provided the officer with Harvard identification and demanded to know
his name, the report said. Sgt. Crowley said he told Mr. Gates he was
leaving and would speak with him outside.
"As I descended the stairs to the sidewalk, Gates continued to yell at me,
accusing me of racial bias and continued to tell me that I had not heard the
last of him," he said in his report. With the officer and the professor on
the porch, Mr. Gates yelled, "This is what happens to black men in America,"
according to a supplemental report by another officer at the scene.
Sgt. Crowley said he warned Mr. Gates he was becoming disorderly, then told
him he was under arrest. Mr. Ogletree said his client has no criminal
record, was in custody for four hours and posted $40 in bond.
"He's a little shaken," the lawyer said. "What happened to him he knows
happens to a lot of people. It was quite a shock that it happened to him
Cambridge police declined to comment. Arraignment is scheduled for Aug. 26.
In addition to his Harvard professorship, Mr. Gates is the director off the
W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at the